140521bless02Operation Pitch Invasion is proud to invite you to the dedication and ribbon-cutting for Bless Field, a celebration of Portland, soccer, and community, and the dawn of a new field of dreams in Oregon's most diverse neighborhood.

  • WHERE: Bless Field, at the intersection of N. Trenton St. and N. Woolsey Ave. in the New Columbia community of North Portland
  • WHEN: Saturday, June 14, 10 am (arrival/coffee/schmoozing from 9:30 am)
  • WHAT: Dedication and ribbon-cutting: Speakers to include representatives of the 107 Independent Supporters Trust, Portland City Council, Portland Timbers, Home Forward, and Providence Health & Services. (Approximately 1 hour total) Followed by a kick-around for the kids for whom the field was built.
  • NOTE: Parking is on-street only; carpooling and public transit encouraged.

Bless Field is a 9000-square foot turf field built adjacent to the Regence Boys and Girls Club and Rosa Parks Elementary. Named for pioneering Timbers Army icon Hartmut Bless, it is designed, optimally, for teams of 10-year-olds and younger, and it will be used by several youth soccer programs currently operating in the community (it will be available to others during non-reserved hours). Bless Field will be a place where the international language of soccer and the Timbers Army's unique brand of spirit and energy will combine to welcome newcomers to the community and offer recreation and life opportunities to boys and girls who could even -- maybe someday -- play for the Timbers and Thorns at Providence Park.

The project has received support from the 107 Independent Supporters Trust, the Portland Development Commission, the Portland Timbers, Providence Health & Services, Adidas, Widmer Bros., LifeWise Health Plans of Oregon, Oregon Premiere Leagues, and other Portland-area organizations and individuals.

Bless Field is a project of Operation Pitch Invasion, a local, grass-roots charity formed to build, revitalize and maintain soccer fields throughout the Portland Metro area so that players of all ages and skill levels have high quality and safe playing surfaces to enjoy the beautiful game. Founded in 2011, OPI has done maintenance and repair work on more than one dozen Portland-area parks and schools. Bless Field is its first capital construction project. It is an Oregon public benefit nonmember, nonprofit corporation exempt from tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. For more information, visit or contact

Bless Field Officially Under Construction

We’re fully funded, permitted, and already breaking ground: Bless Field is officially transitioning from a fundraising project into a construction project. Work is underway with final touches expected early summer. Bless Field construction 3

This vision couldn’t have gotten underway without our many donors and supporters who have given time, money, and attention. We’d especially like to thank:

107ist Portland Timbers Football Club Providence Health & Services Widmer Bros. Portland Development Commission FieldTurf Adidas LifeWise Daimler Factory North Oregon Premier League TripWire Knowledge Universe 105 Howitzers The Duane Graf Family Underdog Sports Eleventy Ones Pitch Invasion And all the other many generous donors like you!

Stay tuned for more announcements and our plans to officially open Bless Field.


OPI Awarded PDC Grant Benefitting Bless Field

BLESS FIELD AWARDED COMMUNITY LIVABILITY GRANT FROM PORTLAND DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION Operation Pitch Invasion is delighted to share the news that its Bless Field project has received a significant boost from the Portland Development Commission in the form of a Community Livability Grant for $40,000.

Bless Field, an all-weather turf soccer field being built in the New Columbia community of North Portland, qualified for the grant as part of the PDC's program to award funding "to projects that involve physical improvements to community facilities, open spaces or historic/cultural preservation...(and)...improve livability for residents and enhance the unique nature of Portland neighborhoods."

PDC joins the Portland Timbers, the 107 Independent Supporters Trust, and Adidas as major supporters of Bless Field, bringing the project to more than 80% of full funding. Efforts to bring the project to completion continue, with several potential sponsors in talks to contribute significantly to realization of the final goal by year's end. OPI is confident that the involvement of PDC will be a factor in bringing other partners aboard.

OPI, a project of the 107ist, is a local, grass-roots charity formed to build, revitalize and maintain soccer fields throughout the Portland Metro area so that players of all ages and skill levels have high quality and safe playing surfaces to enjoy the beautiful game. OPI is an Oregon public benefit nonmember, nonprofit corporation exempt from tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Ticket Raffle Benefitting OPI & Bless Field

Bid the regular season goodbye with a couple more friends (well, a couple more than usual, that is) and help build Bless Field. As we near the end of a spectacular run through the MLS schedule, there's only one more sure chance to see the Timbers at JELD-WEN Field: Saturday, October 19 v Real Salt Lake.

(Yes, of course there will be playoffs, but bear with us here.)

The match is, of course, long sold out. But through the generous offices of several members of the Timbers Army, Operation Pitch Invasion has two pairs of TA General Admission tickets up for raffle. These don't include wristbands, free donuts or the chance to watch Sigi Schmid waddle up and down the sideline. But they DO include the chance to be part of the annual final-match tifo (always special), to see the Timbers lock up a playoff berth, to watch the boys in green put space between themselves and another western conference rival, and to jump and clap and sing for victory among the greatest football supporters the world has ever seen.

A donation of $5.00 gets you one entry in the raffle and a donation of $20 gets you 5 entries. Two winners will be selected and each winner receives a pair of TAGA tickets to the match. You can only purchase chances by making a donation to Operation Pitch Invasion via PayPal. The deadline to enter is Saturday October 19 at 12:00 noon. Winners will be notified by email shortly after the drawing. Include your Twitter handle in your PayPal order and we'll give you a congratulatory shout-out there too. 100% of proceeds go toward the support of Operation Pitch Invasion and the building of Bless Field.

Don't miss out on the chance to bring some old or new friends to what promises to be yet another magical night in Soccer City USA.

Thanks for your support!

Bless Field Update

We are overdue for an update about our Bless Field project. So let’s get to it.

  • Beating Seattle. Our kickoff event, Beating Seattle Never Gets Old: A Benefit for Bless Field was a huge success. Close to 250 supporters came out to the Hollywood Theater to relive some classic Timbers moments from the past and hear from the players that lived that history including Willie Anderson, Bernie Fagan, Roger Goldingay, Mick Hoban, Bill Irwin and Jimmy Kelly. Beating Seattle raised over $3,500 and much more in awareness for the Bless Field project.

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  • Art Takeover. You all remember the amazing Factory North event Art Takeover poster project last year benefitting Harper’s Playground? Well Art Takeover is back for 2013 and its looking to be bigger and better than ever. This year’s event is scheduled for August 10 and will feature limited-run felt pennants featuring designs inspired by Timbers Army songs, past and present. In addition, a number of large-scale, Portland inspired flags will be sold by auction. Sponsorship and support from the 107 Independent Supporter’s Trust, Coava Coffee, Salt & Straw, Widmer, Actual Industries, Seizure Palace and many more promise to make for an awesome way to support Bless Field.

  • Construction Update. Even though fundraising is far from complete, we’ve already begun investing your donation into Bless Field. Before construction can begin, we had to complete a survey of the site as well as a geotechnical soil analysis. The results of these two efforts will be used by our architecture firm, Group Mackenzie, to develop detailed construction designs that the contractor will use to build the field. Both these steps are complete and details construction drawings are underway. If you’ve been by the field in the last few weeks you may have noticed some work happening on the East side of the lot. This work relates to the bike hub and training paths operated by the Community Cycling Center and should not affect Bless Field.

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  • Bless Book. To assist help get the word out about Bless Field, OPI developed a interactive iBook packed with photos, videos and information about the project. If you have an iPad, you can download it for free from the Apple iBookstore. If you don’t have an iPad, you can get all the same information (without the fun videos, pictures and interactive features) in this PDF. Feel free to share this link with your friends and co-workers who are interested in learning more about Bless Field:

  • Park Project Update. Unrelated to Bless Field, we’ve completed two park repair events so far this summer in Willamette Park and Lents Park. We’ve also supported field and grounds restoration work by the Timbers Army Football Club at Marshall High School and Franklin High School. We’ve even acquired some line-painting equipment to get those newly refinished pitches looking sharp prior to match day. While we had to drop our planned June park event due to City budget constraints, we are still hoping for another event late in the summer.

Expect to hear more in coming weeks about Art Takeover. Thanks for all your support. As usual, you can keep up with us on Twitter @opipdx or by keeping an eye on our blog.

Beating Seattle Gets Better: More Ways to Benefit Bless Field

Beating Seattle Never Gets Old, our April 4 fundraiser at the Hollywood Theatre for Bless Field, just got better. In addition to a great night celebrating the matches and men of Timbers history, we’ll be raffling four center-pitch Key Club seats to the April 6 Timbers-Dynamo matchup. Tickets are still available for Beating Seattle and more information about the raffle is below. But first a recap of an amazing couple weeks.

While we knew Portland would be excited about our Bless Field project, we’ve been humbled and thrilled by the receiption the project has recently enjoyed. It all started a couple weeks ago when our partner organization, the 107 Independent Supporters Trust, was invited to City Council to present to Portland’s City Council about the 107ist and its community projects, including Bless Field. You can watch that presentation and hear more about 107ist and Bless Field on YouTube.

Not long after, Ryan Gates over at Stumptown Footy interviewed OPI director Shawn Levy where he talked about the Bless Field project, OPI’s prior work and golden triangle that is Team-Town-Timbers Army. Casey Parks at the Oregonian reported on Bless Field as did Kip Kesgard, the Timbers Army embedded blogging reporter for OregonLive. Just a couple days ago, Brian Costello of the Portland Timbers talked about Beating Seattle at and recently, KOIN talked to Shawn about Bless Field and the Beating Seattle fundraiser:

We’ve made our Beating Seattle event even better by adding a raffle for four center-pitch Key Club seats to the Timbers - Dyanmo match on April 6. Chances are $5.00 each and can either be purchased at the Beating Seattle event or by making a donation on our Eventbrite page. You need not be present at Beating Seattle to win, but it sure would be fun if you were! If you’ve already made a donation through our Eventbrite page, we’ll set aside a raffle ticket for every $5.00 you’ve donated. No limit on the number of raffle tickets you can buy! Our thanks to Dr. Dennis Crawford, Director of Sports Medicine at OHSU for providing the raffle prize.

Beating Seattle Never Gets Old: A Benefit for Bless Field is Thursday, April 4 at 7:00 p.m. at the Hollywood Theatre. Tickets are still available - $12.00 in advance, $15.00 at the door. We hope to see you there.

Bless Field Featured in Front of Portland City Council

Last week the 107 Independent Supporters Trust was invited to present before the Portland City Council. Its amazing to see all the good work the 107ist brings to Portland. As part of that discussion, OPI's Board Member Shawn Levy profiled OPI and the Bless Field project for our City's Commissioners.

What a great honor to have the Bless Field featured in front of our City's Council. Thanks to 107ist for making OPI a part of this presentation!

Benefit for Bless Field: The Players

Hopefully you are planning to join us on April 4 at the Hollywood Theatre at 7:00 for our kickoff benefit for Bless Field: Beating Seattle Never Gets Old. We'll be screening some historic Timbers highlights with commentary throughout the evening from the players who were there: NASL Logo Willie Anderson is one of the longest-tenured players in Timbers history, making some 200 appearances for the club in three distinct stints between 1975 and 1982. A speedy winger who learned the game in his native Liverpool, he played at Manchester United, Aston Villa and Cardiff City before arriving in Portland and is among the Timbers’ all-time leaders in goals and assists.

For many Timbers fans and Portland-area soccer players, Bernie Fagan’s name is among the first they ever knew in association with the game. A longtime college coach, currently in that position at Warner Pacific College, Bernie came to the Timbers as a defender in 1980 after spells at Northampton Town, Scarborough and, ahem, Seattle, among other clubs. (To atone for this error, he had the good taste to be born in Sunderland.)

He’s here to talk Timbers, but Roger Goldingay could also talk about another of Portland’s quirky civic passions: food carts. He operates the Mississippi Marketplace and Cartopia pods. But he first made his way here in 1975 as a forward from Leicester, England, via, AHEM, Seattle. A man who wears many hats, he is surely the only ex-Timber to have published a novel about following the Grateful Dead on tour.

Mick Hoban was literally the first Timber, brought to Portland by Aston Villa manager Vic Crowe for the club’s inaugural season. Hoban had been in Aston Villa’s youth scheme and then its senior squad before coming to the US in 1971 to play for the Atlanta Chiefs (and, incidentally, earning a cap playing for his adopted country). When he left the Timbers after the 1978 season, it was to become the first employee fully dedicated to soccer operations at a little local outfit called Nike.

A great figure in Portland soccer history, Bill Irwin tended goal for the Timbers for but one season in a career that took him from Bangor in his native Northern Ireland to Cardiff in Wales, the Washington Diplomats and a handful of other clubs. But during a quarter-century as a coach at the University of Portland, he had helped make the school into a perennial men’s and women’s powerhouse, with many great players, including several former Timbers, passing on to professional careers. He has also coached the US Women’s International U-23 squad.

He was named Seamus Kelly when he was born in Northern Ireland, but winger Jimmy Kelly was rechristened Magic Feet when he played for the Timbers in their inaugural 1975 season. On loan to Portland from Wolverhampton, he became a cult hero here because of his small stature, his fiery mettle, his footballing wizardry (Sports Illustrated called him a “magician”), and his pop idol looks. Signs declaring “Jimmy Kelly for Mayor” were seen at matches throughout that amazing year.

Check out our prior post where we featured the historic matches to be screened.

Tickets are $12.00 in advance through Eventbrite, $15.00 at the door. Look forward to seeing you there!

A Benefit for Bless Field: The Matches

Hopefully you are planning to join us on April 4 at the Hollywood Theatre at 7:00 for our kickoff benefit for Bless Field: Beating Seattle Never Gets Old. We'll be screening some historic Timbers highlights with commentary throughout the evening from the players who were there. You'll see highlights from these classic matches: NASL LogoAugust 12, 1975: playoff semifinal, Seattle at Portland The Timbers began their history in May, 1975, with a loss at home to the Sounders before something like 7,500 fans. But when the teams met again, in July, there were 27,000 Portlanders watching the Timbers get their revenge. A third match in Seattle went the Sounders’ way, setting up the two teams on a collision course for this playoff semi-final, played before a then-record NASL crowd of 31,000. One of the great matches in the history of this storied rivalry.

June 12, 1976: Cosmos at Portland Led by Pele and Giorgio Chinaglia, the 1976 Cosmos scored a lot of goals, and the Timbers weren’t nearly as successful in their second season as in their debut year. So this wasn’t much of a game from a sporting standpoint. But it’s amazing to watch some of the game’s greatest names compete on the same ground where today’s Timbers play.

April 17, 1982: Timbers at Chicago In what would be the Timbers’ last season of any sort for a full seven years, the team played a springtime match against defending the NASL champion Chicago Sting on the hallowed grounds of Wrigley Field. It turned out to be a much more hotly contested encounter than it might have appeared it would be, with both teams showing the effects of a winter spent playing in NASL’s indoor league.

In an upcoming post, we'll feature the players from these historic matches who will be joining us.

Tickets are $12.00 in advance through Eventbrite, $15.00 at the door. Look forward to seeing you there!

New Project: Bless Field at New Columbia

The last couple years have been amazing for OPI. We've marshaled over 900 hours of volunteer labor to improve our City's pitches. Those volunteers helped level, seed and restor eight different fields, repaint 70 goals, remove yards of concrete and repair countless pieces of irrigation equipment. We've improved or added pitches to 4 different City parks and 2 of Portland's schools. We are immensely proud of our volunteers who make all this work possible. But this year we're on to something we hope will be our biggest project yet.

And we'll need your help to make it happen.

This year we're working to build Bless Field: a youth-sized all-season pitch for the kids of Portland's New Columbia neighborhood.


The New Columbia community is home to nearly 1,200 kids from 22 countries speaking more than 11 different languages and we see Bless Field as a place where all of these kids can share the common language that is the beautiful game. Bless Field is designed to support AC Portland sponsored events through nearby Rosa Parks Elementary School and after-school programs through the Regence Boys & Girls Club. It's not so impossible to imagine Bless Field becoming a place where a future Timbers or Thorns star will learn the game and go on to score a winning goal at JELD-WEN Field in front of the best supporters in the world.

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Its a major project for sure - but one worthy of the effort. In the weeks to come, we'll be sharing more details about how you can help make this project happen.

To stay up on the latest, keep an eye on our blog, give us a follow on Twitter (@OPIPDX) and join our mailing list. You can also bookmark and share this page on the OPI website that contains all the latest on the Bless Field project.